Things changed in Big East volleyball over the weekend.
Marquette went out to the New York City area with an eye on securing their lead in the standings, but they return to Milwaukee in a tie atop the leaderboard and with their first loss to an unranked team on the year. On Friday night, Marquette beat Seton Hall 3-1 (25-16, 19-25, 25-14, 25-19), but on Saturday evening, the Golden Eagles got pushed to five sets by St. John’s where the Red Storm came away with the final set victory and the 3-2 win.
That loss to St. John’s moves Marquette down and the Red Storm up to 7-1 in the Big East standings on Sunday morning. That has both teams one game ahead of Xavier at 6-2 and a game and a half in front of 5-2 Creighton pending a match with Villanova on Sunday afternoon in Omaha.
The first set in South Orange on Friday night turned when Marquette ripped off eight straight points to go up 13-7. That blast included two kills and a block from Aubrey Hamilton, who continued her stretch of great matches with 18 kills and a .425 hitting percentage on this night. Seton Hall would manage to halve that lead, but a 7-1 run capped by a kill from Sienna Ifill made it 22-13 Marquette, and at that point you’re just coasting it home.
Seton Hall had the early advantage in Set 2, going up 5-0 out of the gate. MU fought back to tie it at 11-all, but the Pirates regained an edge with three straight to take a 19-15 lead late. A Jenna Reitsma ace made it 21-19, but Reitsma handed that point right back with a service error, and that error was the first of four straight SHU points to close out the set and even the match at one each.
The third set started out as a set of runs. After Taylor Jakubowski fired an ace to open things up at 1-0 Seton Hall, Marquette scored four straight. Then the Pirates had four straight. Then Marquette had six straight. Seton Hall only answered with two before Marquette added another three. 13-7 MU at that point, a 4-1 burst with an Aubrey Hamilton ace finisher moved the Golden Eagles to an eight point advantage, and they closed out the frame on a 6-2 stretch, including the 25th point on a kill from Hamilton.
Marquette grabbed hold of the fourth set in the middle stretch, turning a 12-all tie into a 17-12 lead before extending that to 20-13 on a combo block from Ella Foti and Carsen Murray. The Pirates made it a little interesting at the end, fending off match point three times before Reitsma wrapped things up with a kill.
How about some highlights, courtesy of FloSports and GoMarquette.com?
Onwards to Saturday, and I’m going to largely speaking gloss over this match. Here’s the deal: St. John’s was ready, willing, and able to run with Marquette all match long. The Johnnies opened up a 17-13 lead in a competitive first set, Marquette pulled even at 22, but a misfire on an attack by Aubrey Hamilton and an ace from SJU’s Giorgia Walther moved the show to set point and Lucrezia Lodi wrapped it up for the home team with a kill.
Sets 2 and 3 went to Marquette, but the Golden Eagles were never cruising through it. Even after inducing an error from Lodi put MU up 22-16 in the second, the Red Storm answered with four straight. MU moved it to set point, service error by Yadhira Anchante, Hamilton got blocked by Erin Jones and Amariis Garcia, and Walther tacked on a kill. Three set points pushed away by the Johnnies, and now it’s 24-23. Carsen Murray, back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench on Friday, wrapped it up with a kill, but it wasn’t fun.
In the third, the Johnnies were up 9-6 and then 15-12, even after Marquette tied it at 11 in the middle of that. MU tied it at 16. St. John’s tied it at 18. Molly Berezowitz fired an ace for a 20-18 lead. Hamilton got blocked by Magda Stambrowska for a 21-20 St. John’s lead. Never cruising through it. A 5-1 run to close the set and go up 2-1 makes it sound like things were going well, but it was a fight to do it.
Fourth set: More of the same. St. John’s up 18-15, Marquette ties it at 21. Tied again at 22 and with the match on the line...... St. John’s fires off three straight kills to push it along to a fifth set. Three different attackers, too: Stambrowska, Walther, and Jones.
The fifth set might have been decided right away, because those are the things that happen when you’re only playing to 15. REMINDER: I think this rule is stupid. In any case, St. John’s was up 5-1 on a kill from Jones right away. 8-3, 10-5, 14-10. Match point for the Red Storm after all of this..... and Marquette made them fight to get the win. The Golden Eagles induced a misfire from Jones and then stuffed another attack from her with Anchante and Murray going up to get it. 14-13. St. John’s on the verge of blowing this in a bad, bad way.
And Anchante pushed the serve long and out of bounds.
The Red Storm were able to disrupt Aubrey Hamilton, who has been scorching opponents over the past few weeks, right up through Friday night against the Pirates. Here she hit just .242 on the night, and while she had 22 kills across five sets and that’s really good, she also had seven errors.
How about some highlights, such as they are, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and ESPN+?
Up Next: The run of road matches continues next weekend when Marquette heads out to visit some of their Midwestern foes. On Friday, they’ll face Butler at 5pm Central, and that will be followed 24 hours later by a visit to Xavier. The Bulldogs dropped to 3-5 in Big East play and 9-10 overall with a 3-1 loss to Connecticut on Saturday, while the Musketeers kept themselves in contention for a Big East title by sweeping Providence on the road for their third straight win.